So it turns out that all those hours you spend playing video games isn’t a waste of time after all, as some parents/partners may suggest, in-fact you’re actually training yourself to be a better surgeon, according to a new study.
Dr. Sami Kilic, an associate professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), decided to begin a study into the connection between the ability to perform robotic surgery and time spent playing video games after watching his 10-year old son try his hand at a surgery simulator and look like a natural at a medical convention.
The study compared how three different groups performed robotic surgery simulations. The first was a group of high school sophomores who played video games for two hours a day, the second college-age students who played four hours a day, and finally a group of resident physicians who don’t play any video games.
Kilic then tasked these groups with performing delicate surgical tasks using the robotic simulator which tested the subjects economy of motion, hand-eye coordination and hand steadiness, all while checking for colliding instruments, mistakes, etc.
It turns out that the video game playing groups matched the resident physicians in the test, the majority of whom had previous experience with the simulator. “Video games seem to improve the motor skills and hand and eye coordination, which translates as reduced adaptation time and response time,” Kilic said.
He also noted that of all the groups it was the youngest that performed the best, noting that playing more hours of video games doesn’t make you any better, just that some amount helps. To make things fair the Doctor also ran the three groups through a non-robotic assisted surgery simulation and this time the physicians came out on top.
“I think the residents’ surgical background kicked in this part of the experiment,” he said. “This tells me that classic teaching helps better for classical surgeries. But when you implement new technology to the medical field you need to have slightly different mindset to excel at it.”
“Most physicians in practice today never learned robotic surgery in medical school,” Kilic concluded. “However, as we see students with enhanced visual-spatial experience and hand-eye coordination that are a result of the technologically-savvy world they are immersed in, we should rethink how best to teach this generation.”
So next time someone is nagging at you for playing video games, just tell them you are training to be a surgeon.